Archive for Thursday, December 21, 2006

Sebelius: Coal plants likely

Governor says it’s important to keep business in Kansas, despite controversy

December 21, 2006


— Gov. Kathleen Sebelius on Thursday said Sunflower Electric Power Corp. likely will be able to build coal-fired plants.

"It's a question of does it get built in Kansas or Oklahoma," Sebelius said in an interview with the Lawrence Journal-World.

Sunflower Electric has proposed three 700-megawatt plants next to its current 360-megawatt facility in the west Kansas town of Holcomb.

Permits for the project are under review by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

Environmentalists say the plants will be a major source of gases that cause destructive climate change. Supporters of the project say it will burn coal more cleanly than older plants and will boost the west Kansas economy.

A number of environmental groups have asked Sebelius to reject the Sunflower proposal and declare a moratorium on the construction of coal-fired plants in Kansas.

When asked about what she would do about the proposal, Sebelius said there is a need on the federal level to regulate plant emissions.

"It's very difficult within the borders of Kansas to control greenhouse gases and global warming," Sebelius said.

"I am eager to be a partner in that effort across the country, but what we know is that the Holcomb plant is likely to be built one way or the other. It's a question of does it get built in Kansas or Oklahoma," she said.

Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has voiced some support for the building of clean coal plants in western Kansas under certain conditions. Sebelius said on Thursday that the plants could help the state's rural economy.

Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has voiced some support for the building of clean coal plants in western Kansas under certain conditions. Sebelius said on Thursday that the plants could help the state's rural economy.

Her comments were criticized by environmentalists who have been fighting Sunflower's proposal.

"To say that state government can't do anything is an excuse to do nothing," said Charles Benjamin, an attorney representing the Kansas chapter of the Sierra Club.

He noted that California and a group of northeastern states have adopted rules to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Eight states have come out in opposition to the Sunflower proposal.

"The excuse that we have to wait until the federal government does something, is just that, an excuse," Benjamin said.

A spokesman for Sunflower could not be reached for comment. Benjamin said he had heard of no proposal from Sunflower to try to build the plants elsewhere if rejected in Kansas, although he noted Sunflower's partner, Denver-based Tri-State Generation and Transmission, which will own two of the proposed Holcomb plants, also plans to build a coal-fired unit in Colorado.

Sebelius said the Sunflower project has prompted state leaders to focus on energy issues with an eye toward promoting renewable sources.

"I'm hopeful that what we will do at the end of the day is really use this as an opportunity to accelerate some of the renewable energy of which we have an incredible abundance in this state," she said.

But Benjamin said his concern was that the Sunflower plants will be constructed and its emissions will be exempted from possible tighter controls in the future.

"These coal plants will be emitting for the next 50 to 75 years. That will be the entire lifetime of many of the children and grandchildren alive today. These have important consequences," he said.


snowWI 11 years, 3 months ago

CW, Outside air is only comprised of a very small amount of CO2. The proposed Holcomb plants would emit close to 15 million tons of CO2 annually, with no chance in the future to cut those emissions with the pulverized coal technology they are using.

preebo 11 years, 4 months ago that Kanas as well as other states can all cooperate with the terms and make America a cleaner and safer nation. We are not going to change the air quality of America within the borders of Kansas. This suprises me because... (This is the missing segment of my earlier post).

opinion 11 years, 4 months ago

Gov. Sebelius is a polished politician. Very much like the Republicans that just got voted out of office. They get elected based on saying the right things to their base and then when push comes to shove - same old, same old.

oldgoof 11 years, 4 months ago

Sebelius also states another observation of mine: energy policies are largely national. Until those change, these plants will be built, the only question is where. .. And to those who preach state-level renewable energy portfolios, that is what got Kansas in this mess in the first place.

Shelby 11 years, 4 months ago

log....why do you insist on "republiKLAN"?

preebo 11 years, 4 months ago

I for one am severly disappointed in the Govenors actions here. She proclaimed at the sunset of her re-election to be committed to leading the nation in alternative energy sources and she then goes in the opposite direction with this decision to allow more coal firing plants to built in her state. I am toubled by this and her response when she was interview by KPR. She said something to the effect that we (as a nation) need to adopt the Kyoto treaty terms so that Kansas as well as other states. This suprises me because this doesn't seem like the words of a leader. She passes this issue off to the President, who everyone knows is as likely to adopt the terms of the Kyoto Protocol as he is to leave Iraq by years end. I am ashamed of our leadership in environmental issues here in Kansas. I voted for Sebelius because I thought she would be a better steward of the environment, but now I have my first real concerns.

oldgoof 11 years, 4 months ago

I'm not stirred much one way or another by this issue, other than it makes Lawrencians look foolish in much of the rest of Kansas, and to note the hypocracy of this economically-blessed part of the state preaching to the less-blessed, while the Lawrence area's energy consumption increases much like the rest of the country, and while those demands are serviced by a dirtier coal plant in Lawrence.

KS 11 years, 4 months ago

That should come as no surprise, Bowhunter99. This party affiliation thing is only about power and money, not what is right for the country.

Jeteras 11 years, 4 months ago

Might as well, Al Gore showed us we are all doomed anyways. If you gotta go,, go with a smile as you drive your hummer down the road as the temperature reaches 180 degrees for the day.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 4 months ago

I would expect that if you look at who contributed money to her campaigns, and who she hopes will contribute to future campaigns, you'll find the real basis for this non-decision.

Democrats are only slightly less corrupt than Republicans in this respect, because corruption is the name of the game in American politics.

dragonwagon2 11 years, 4 months ago

I'm not in favor of coal fired energy plants, but I'm also not sure whether people in Lawrence have any idea how economically strapped our western counties are. There are differing points of view to any situation, I don't think we have all the information we need to say what's good or bad. We fuss about nuclear power, wind power, now coal - what DO you want?

tot 11 years, 4 months ago

Wow... good to know the governor is pulling for the farmers and air quality. Why can't we do something about this?! I say we do, do something about this. We have a right as Kansans to do something.

KS 11 years, 4 months ago

And the beat goes on. Sebelius did nothing during her first term and that is what got her re-elected. Some thngs never change.

TheOriginalCA 11 years, 4 months ago

This is another example of a candidate who caters to one group of constituents during the campaign but turns her back on them after she gets (re)elected.

Well, y'all voted for her and now she is just what an elected official SHOULD be. Thumbing her nose at the irrelevant crowd (liberals) and pushing a most proper corporate business agenda forward.

KsTwister 11 years, 4 months ago

If states like Ohio can keep them from polluting their fine state what makes our governor think she can take them in? Get smart or go.

Sandman 11 years, 4 months ago

Sebelius is a Democrat, and hardly some "right-winger". As a left-leaning moderate, she supports the project.

I think this shows more about the hard-left progressives in Lawrence - and their ridiculous agenda - than it does about Sebelius.

KS 11 years, 4 months ago

I would not disagree with that Sandman. The point is that she is going to do nothing. She will not take a strong position either way. Just watch.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 4 months ago

It's about leadership, oldgoof.

There is a serious lack of enlightened leadership at the national level, particularly within BushCo.

If Sebelius had made the right decision, and that would have included pushing for rapid develpment of wind and solar resources, and in energy efficiency measures, that would have made more headlines than Ahnold going green in California.

Instead, she chose to avoid controversy, and took the milktoast decision to remain on the route of mass suicide that you appear to prefer, just so Kansas could get the windfall tax bribe for being stupid instead of Oklahoma getting it. In terms of the regional economic effects, it really wouldn't matter if it's built in Holcomb or 75 miles to the south in Oklahoma, anyway.

Shelby 11 years, 4 months ago

(fyi--I think it's "milquetoast," JABOTB.)

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 4 months ago

I try to avoid "french" spellings whenever possible, being surrender monkeys and all.

snowWI 11 years, 4 months ago

Well, these coal plants will only add even more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere in a time when they are increasing rapidly due to fast growing countries in Asia. Once again, these plants will be on-line for 50-75 years with NO TECHNOLOGIES TO CAPTURE CO2. That would be 15 million tons per year for 50-75 years. Kansas should have invested in our transmission line infrastructure years ago so that we would have had at least a good percentage of our electricity from wind. The greedy front range of Colorado will get > 90% of the electricity at the expense of Kansas. Droughts and desert-like conditions will continue to gradually become the norm in most of Western Kansas.

TheOriginalCA 11 years, 4 months ago

Hey snowWI, do you drive a car and use electricity? Just wondering.

snowWI 11 years, 4 months ago

These coal plants will only continue to add to the problem of increasing GHGs in the atmosphere. The overall climate has already been warming, and certain crops will be very difficult to grow in Kansas if temperatures keep increasing, which leads to an increase in evaporation, especially during the growing season. Water tables are also falling in many areas because of overuse.
The real health and climate change costs are not included in the total cost of the plants. In reality, the plants will only contribute more to climate change, which will have affects on all rural Kansans.

snowWI 11 years, 4 months ago

OriginalCA, Yes, I drive a car that is very energy efficient. I also make sure that my house is properly insulated to cut down on energy consumption. I use energy efficent compact flourescent light bulbs that I recycle once they are burned out. A lack of energy efficency measures in Kansas is one of the contributing factors as to why we are talking about building more coal plants in this state.

rastus 11 years, 4 months ago

Its been fun reading all these comments regarding the sunflower project. I know people involved in the project and know just a bit about the projects scope and impacts.

  1. KDHE is a government regulator bureaucracy. The only tools it has to do the job of protecting the KS environment are the State and Federal rules. If no rule exists to create an action then no action is undertaken. For instance Fish and Wildlife were not contacted by KDHE because the rule states they are to be contacted if class I public lands are within 100 kilometers of the source project. The nearest class I lands to the sunflower project are 250 miles from the project. The best chance anyone working from within the agency can do to keep from getting slammed from all sides is to follow and stay within the State and Federal rules. Few citizens of KS see the need to get more proactive in the rules and rule making that serve to protect the environment. Knee jerk reactions to projects such as Sunflower are not proactive they are reactive and not particularly effective. There are no greenhouse gas rules in KS.

  2. I see several comments purporting wind as the alterative to coal. Unfortunately, wind power has not yet moved beyond supplementing conventional power generation. There is no affordable way to store wind energy on a commercial wind farm. Available wind is simply not consistent with consumer demands for electric power. Therefore it can only be a supplement.

  3. Workable winds for wind turbines don't exist just because the wind is blowing. Velocity fluctuations and turbulence can produce mechanical stresses in equipment that make many windy sites unworkable. Think of flying a kite. The winds capable of maintaining your kite high and stationary have the best flow characteristics for turbines. In addition a workable and consistent flow profile must exist no matter which way the wind is coming from. Those flow profiles don't happen to exist just anywhere the wind blows.

  4. Coal is a filthy fuel that is not capable of being mined with out devastating environmental impacts. Old coal fired power plants are by far the worst place to burn coal for power. Not only are they rich in pollutants they are poor in fuel efficiency. The perfect place to get more of what we don't want and less of what we do want. The demand for electric power is in one direction only, more. Apparently the only question Sunflower has presented us with is do we burn more coal in our old plants or do we burn our coal in a new plant.

windy 11 years, 4 months ago

cool, why don't you offer facts about energy instead of your bs?

The aquifer is not depleted BW, and wind power can not be reliable at any time..........

Maybe will all the crap that you talk, you could save it and burn it to heat several 1,000 homes, then you wouldn't need natural gas either.

windy 11 years, 4 months ago

It looks like you need to get into the 20th century, boilers are not used much for home heating any longer.

All dispatch centers us computer operated systems to monitor the grid.

So your saying that when the demand is not need, shut down the power plants, then when you come home turn on a few lights in your house so you don't get scared then get your computer fired up so you can bitch. And if the wind is not blowing go ahead put fire in the boilers, burn natural gas to prewarm this cold water heater, stabilize the fires, start trying to burn coal and then after atleast 20 hours of this then get the unit on line and sit there for the water quality to improve. Then buy this time the wind starts blowing again, the wind turbines can generate power and then they can shut the power plant down. And all of this is supposed to be better? Now how can that be cheaper electricity???????

budwhysir 11 years, 4 months ago

I am more interested in the cration of worm farms here in the midwest. I like the fact that worm farms can be used to help in power production.

Wind farms may have a place. But further research must be done to insure the safety of our wildlife. I am still concerned about the noise effecting the geese migration and also throwing the deer off of thier normal path of travel.

windy 11 years, 4 months ago

Cool, your time to comment and flap your jaw on this subject has been over since the 15th. You sound like a person that does nothing but bitch, maybe you and snowWI should get together.

Your post Cool,

WIND POWER is reliable when added to an existing GRID it makes up the difference just like a pre-heat or solar water heater raises the intake water temperature to a home boiler so it doesn't have to work as hard raising the base temperature. same thing with wind power. with digital monitoring of GRID demand the power plant only needs to produce the difference not a surplus. If you don't now electrical or power GRID terms don't us them. Or maybe you need to do your research first. Your NY TIMES article, porbably doesn't exsist or you don't know the real meaning of the big words

So before you spot your stupid a** comments, remember what you say, or maybe you cut and paste from others.

So cool, (learn these terms first). F.B.M.B

TheOriginalCA 11 years, 4 months ago

SnowWI, that was a pretty good response. Much better than I anticipated. hats off to you for doing your part.

The VERY biggest problem in generating electricity AND not polluting is that the power needs to be economical. Alternative power AINT cheap. I have seen some very cool alternatives.. There is a solar power plant out by Barstow, CA where steam is created by thousands of huge mirrors in a field reflecting sunlight on to a single point on a tower thus heating the water, creating steam and turning turbines. I can only imagine how expensive that is. I also have no clue on how much real estate it takes to host that many mirrors in order to produce the power required. I also dont have time to research it, but it sounds very interesting. I don't think that we are any closer to alternative fuels now than we were when i was in grade school and these things were being discussed (35 years ago). There are numerous technologies, but the hardest thing is standardizing on one technology to move forward with as an economical (or closest to it) means of providing us with the amount of power required. I am not in favor of continuing to build coal based plants while procrastinating true development of safe and econimocal clean fuel sources. I have no doubt that burning coal is cleaner than it used to be, but it is still coal and cant possibly be all that clean no matter what.

I am rambling and time to quit...

Merry Christmas...

snowWI 11 years, 4 months ago

windy, I have my facts straight about the proposed Holcomb plants. We will be exporting electricity to other states using old pulverized coal technology, that will soon be outdated. The new coal power plants may be cleaner than previous generations, but the emissions of CO2 using old pulverized coal technology is still high. Another problem I have is that the mercury emissions from these plants will be meeting the EPA regulations, but those standards are not strict enough. Several states are calling for tougher regulations on mercury emissions from coal power plants.
For example New York:

Newer technologies continue to develop and carbon sequestration is still being looked at to find ways of storing the CO2 that is emitted from power plants. Even Duke Energy is starting to realize that increasing levels of GHGs in the atmosphere might actually be a problem.

snowWI 11 years, 4 months ago

From the headline here it would seem that the Governor is still weighing all of the options regarding the proposed plants. It sure seems like a different headline each day regarding this issue.

snowWI 11 years, 4 months ago

The propsed Holcomb coal plants will be the largest new source of CO2 west of the Mississippi River. Western Kansas is the high plains NOT THE MIDWEST. Water resources will only become more scarce in the future as the climate changes. The state of Kansas needs to be given more time to develop or transmission line infrastructure in rural areas so more of our electricity can be generated by wind than relying on outdated coal technology.

budwhysir 11 years, 4 months ago

So here is my speach from my soap box.

Is there any way to control how much electricity we use. By putting a cap limit on our usage, we could in fact, lower our dependency of usage. I dont know, maybe we should alternate between coal and wind and solar. Possibly using one system for a year and then taking that plant down for maint. and rebuilding.

This would allow for a complete and efficient system. Including added taxes for upkeep and shutdown. This is a possible idea that would limit the effect on global warming, and possible effect on wildlife due to wind farms

energyguy 11 years, 3 months ago

holy crap!! you people really really really need to find something to do with all your time!!! GET A FRIGGIN LIFE!!!

budwhysir 11 years, 3 months ago

energyguy, you seem upset with some of my concerns. I am only worried about the effect on our future and the effects on our wildlife by this change.

Reseach helps in answering questions. thanks

snowWI 11 years, 3 months ago

energyguy, Many people are concerned about the proposed Holcomb plants because they will be the largest new source of CO2 emissions in the entire country. The current plant in Holcomb is only in operation for a portion of the year, not 365 days a year. Meanwhile, everyone is still waiting on the ruling by the KDHE.

windy 11 years, 3 months ago

snowWI, There you go again, making comments about things you don't KNOW anything about. The current Holcomb plant DOES run 365 days a year. (D.A) You had also do some looking into how much CO2 air has in it before you say any more. A lot of different things put out CO2, oceans, clouds, and blow hards like you

snowWI 11 years, 3 months ago

windy, Carbon Dioxide makes up 0.04% of all gases found in the atmosphere. If the Holcomb plant runs for 365 days a year when does routine maintenance occur at this plant? I assume all coal plants occasionally shut down for routine maintenance and upgrades. CO2 is still a GHG and the outdated coal plants that are planned for Holcomb have no way of reducing these emissions in the future. 15 million tons of CO2 will be produced at these coal plants annually, and Kansas will receive less than 10% of the generated electricity. Do you work for Sunflower, windy?

windy 11 years, 3 months ago

snowWI So now you say that CO2 only makes up .04% of all gases found in the atmosphere? With this amount present and 99.96% other gases, what is your big concern? With this said and you being a greenie what is the big problem? (Now remember .04% ) That is a very, very small amount, and where did you come up with that number? And for your info these plants are the 'STATE OF THE ART', with the best controls and monitoring systems. Who is to say that in the very near future CO2 can not be captured?

snowWI posted, 'The current plant in Holcomb is only in operation for a portion of the year, not 365 days a year. '

Yes, they are shut down for very limited times throughout the year, but by your post you make it sound like it is shut down for months, which is not the case. This plant has a reliability rating of 98% compared to the big polluters from back east ,where these other states that oppose building . ( 98% is from F.E.R.C. , which means down time ) These other states have old ancient plants were they discharge ash, soot and other particulate and they do not scrub there discharge from any pollutant....... The present plant is not like that and the newer ones will be even better. BTW snow, the people building these new plant will not be illigal migrant workers, they will be highly trained professionals. And for your last question, YES I DO, and proud of it. (And no I am not Steve Miller)

snowWI 11 years, 3 months ago

windy, 1)The new coal plants may be state of the art, but do any new coal plants have the ability to capture the CO2 that is released? NO. The technology at the Holcomb plants is burning pulverized coal, that has no method of capturing CO2. The next generation technology is using coal gasification. This technology is much more efficient than pulverized coal plants, in terms of coal technology. (If the plants are not state of the art now they definatly will not be state of the art in 50 years) The big problem is that heat-trapping GHGs have been on the rise in the atmosphere, and the new plants at Holcomb would be the LARGEST NEW SOURCE OF CO2 in the entire country. Building more large scale wind farms and implementing more energy efficiency programs across the tri-state electric cooperative area could reduce electricity demand and the need for 3 large power plants. 2) The federal regulations for mercury emissions are not strict enough. Several states have demanded that power plants implement controls on mercury that are more stringent than EPA standards.

snowWI 11 years, 3 months ago

windy, It is good that you have admitted you work for Sunflower. I have suspected it based on your posts.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 3 months ago

"So now you say that CO2 only makes up .04% of all gases found in the atmosphere? With this amount present and 99.96% other gases, what is your big concern? With this said and you being a greenie what is the big problem? (Now remember .04% ) That is a very, very small amount, and where did you come up with that number?"

Perhaps you should investigate the effects of CO2 in the atmosphere. Just because that "sounds" like a small amount doesn't mean that it has a small effect.

There are many substances that can be quite (quickly) deadly in considerably lower concentrations, so just "sounding" small is completely irrelevant to this issue.

windy 11 years, 3 months ago

snow, In the DOE ( Bozo for you this is the Dept. of Energy)link you provided the coal gasification systems still has CO2 in their exhuast that could be captured. When captured where will all of this be stored? In that info provided it still does not say how much CO2 is given off. Looking more at this site, I also found out that K.U is doing research for the DOE. I take it you are a student there, snow? If you are you should know that Sunflower has done mercury studies with the DOE and that it went better then they had ever thought. And they also but in ultra low Nox burners.

BOZO, the .04% CO2 in the atmosphere is relativily low, in the ppb range. Maybe that small amount in the atmosphere has clouded your brian. You should change your user name to 'Richard Noggin'

snowWI 11 years, 3 months ago

1)The research and development of capturing the CO2 emissions that are produced from coal gasification is occuring right now. However, the sequestration of the captured CO2 into the ground holds some potential. This can work in abandoned oil fields. This technology to capture CO2 in gas form can not be used on the outdated pulverized coal power plants that are planned for Holcomb. That is why the proposed plants will produce around 15 million tons of CO2 every year. The potential capture of CO2 would only work well using the new generation technologies. I continue to believe that better energy efficiency programs and measures would reduce the demand for 3 large outdated coal power plants. Large-scale wind farms could easily make a difference, and make up a larger percentage of the total electricity generated in Kansas. 2) Yes, I am a student at KU. "Coal gasification may offer a further environmental advantage in addressing concerns over the atmospheric buildup of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide. If oxygen is used in a coal gasifier instead of air, carbon dioxide is emitted as a concentrated gas stream in syngas at high pressure. In this form, it can be captured and sequestered more easily and at lower costs. By contrast, when coal burns or is reacted in air, 80 percent of which is nitrogen, the resulting carbon dioxide is diluted and more costly to separate."

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